Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dappled Light


Closets can become a very intimidating thing for anyone who has lost someone close to them, but perhaps most so for a parent who has lost a child. And one cannot move from a home without having to do a fair amount of closet cleaning and organizing, first for the sale of the home and then for the move itself. Needless to say, there's been a fair amount of closet cleaning in my life these days. I marvel that for a house that Joseph never lived in, and for a woman who was so careful to put everything I have of him in one place under the presumption that I still want to know where he is, so to speak, that little pieces of him continue to leak out of my neat organization and into the furthest reaches of my home and my mind. It is symbolic on so many levels. I cannot contain my grief. I cannot relagate him to the past nor to a neatly controlled place in the present. Because he is not in any one place, connected with any one thing. Joseph is always here, always with me.

I found the above picture while organizing and thinning out our closet in the master bedroom yesterday afternoon. I am pleased to say that while finding such memories still knick my heart with pangs that can only be categorized as pain, it is the kind of pain that tweaks a smile even as it tempts the tears. Proof he was here, and by its inexplicable location in the closet, perhaps proof in its own way that he still is...not so much that I think he is haunting or physically rearranging things, but more a sense that just the way belongings tend to "wander" about a home, his spirit undoubtedly wanders somewhere, everywhere. The picture is poignant and inspires both memory and thought...a glimpse, a "where's Waldo", a impish look, a "here I am, down here"...a reminder that if I do not pay attention, I may miss something precious, something joyful and fleeting.

Moving is so hard. I have so many worries, so many questions and so much baggage from my past. We are upgrading our home. We've both worked hard for it, we've planned and saved and talked and handled our money with utmost responsibility and care. There will never be another opportunity like there is right now in terms of the tax break and the interest rates and it would be foolish not to take advantage of it when we have both the means and the desire to do so. But I find myself, as I wander through beautiful homes, catching my breath, holding my stomach against inner turmoil and feelings of anxiousness...as if I need to hide. As if I do not belong there. It is so much more than I ever hoped I would have. When Stewart and I divorced and the world fell apart in every sense (and I with it), I came to accept I was going to only have so much in life. That I only deserved so much. At first there was anger at the death of so many dreams, but then there was acceptance and an eagerness to embrace what hand I was dealt and to get on with it. I put away the dream home idea, put away any thought of ever having any kind of financial prosperity. And I was fine. I lost the bitterness and any sense of entitlement. Alexander's and then Joseph's cancer solidified that into my soul and I became a better person I think. But somewhere in there apparently was a tiny voice that recognized mistakes made during that horrible time and whispered "You got what you deserved".

Joe moving here and buying us a house fulfilled so many dormant desires that I no longer touched. It was like throwing open the windows in a dusty, cobwebbed attic, cleaning everything in sight and revealing a treasure-trove put away. A life partner. Daily support. A leave-taking of loneliness. A lovely, physical home surrounded by green and flowers, filled with the life-standards of comfort, forgiveness and joy, beyond but including contentment. There was no restless bird inside to silence or sooth...it had long gone quiet in my refusal to pay it heed. But it flutters again now as we look at improvements still further, squawking out warnings of the danger of asking too much of the universe. We have been given our slice of happiness. Do we reach too far (do I reach too far) to dare to dream of more? I feel the yearning forward, countermanned by the anxious backward pull, the niggling fingers of fear up my spine and the difficulty imagining myself there amoung granite countertops and brand new appliances. I have realized I still feel somewhere in me that perhaps I do not deserve it. I recognize it won't be hard to get used to a bigger home, a nicer neighborhood. Will I continue to recognize my blessings if I become surrounded by a still more bountiful serving of Plenty? Does accepting there is more to be had lead to a natural inclination to always seek out More? I do not want to be a suburban grasper. I simply want to be happy. We could use more space. We both like nice things. But I struggle with my fear of loss, of being punished for daring to awaken that optimism, particularly in times like these. And I fear I am still haunted by an inner sense of undeservedness.

Joe listens and understands. The stress of buying a new home is not lost on us, but so far it seems to have awakened a deeper communication, solemn, serious talks about finances and fears, hopes and desires. I love talking with him. I love exploring his mind and how he delves into mine. And I love the glasses of wine and the touch of his hand that always comes, drawing me to him....the mental connection of long deliberations, perhaps inevitably, seeking to solidify in the silence of physical, emotional.

Nick and Alex get home from scout camp around noon. I have no doubt they will be filthy, tired, jubilant, arguing. I look forward to seeing them. The air today is silken with damp, the sky hidden behind thick clouds of spring. The day is busy. Life is busy.

1 comment:

karengberger said...

I understand what you are saying. At the same time, I rejoice with you at the things that are opening up within you and before you. One step at a time, you will know what to do. One step at a time, you will adjust to whatever is to be; you've done it when it was required of you before. It's good to acknowledge that what is considered a "step forward" can take as much adjustment as a thing called a "step backward," if I can put it that way. Change is work, but it's often a blessing. May this change bring blessings to you, Joe and your boys.